Friday, December 31, 2010

Blueberry Syrup

It dawned on me that some folks might not know what miso is or how you go about purchasing it for soup. I certainly did not the first time I entered the store looking for it.
The photo above is the Miso I have on hand in my fridge, and you do need to go to an organic/specialty shop to find it.

Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning made by fermenting rice, barley or soybeans and combining with the fungus koji, also found in soy sauce and sake.  Miso is high in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals.  According to Wikipedia, Miso is a living food containing beneficial microorganisms that can be killed by over cooking.  Which is why you mix in after you have boiled the soup.

So now that we have that cleared up, let's move on to breakfast:
Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes from my new Veganomicon cookbook.

I was surprised how runny the batter was.  We followed the recipe to a T, but when we got to the part about mixing in the blueberries we were skeptical it would work in the runny batter.  I considered adding more flour or cornmeal to the mix, instead I decided to go with the runny batter and see how the cakes turned out.  Well, rather than pancakes, we ended up with Flat Cakes!  But both Mr. Kummerow and I mentioned we preferred them this way.  Rather than mix in the blueberries at all, I opted to create a blueberry syrup to top the pancakes with.

Blueberry Syrup (pancake, waffle topping)
Serves 2-4

1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 tbsp Agar Agar
1 tbsp brown rice syrup

In small pan heat blueberries and brown rice syrup to boiling.  Mash blueberries with a fork while boiling, then reduce heat and simmer.  Stir in Agar Agar and remove from heat.  Let syrup set a few minutes to cool and thicken. 

I am noticing how all the ingredients I am discussing in this post probably seem very foreign to most, as they did to me just less than a year ago.  Now they have all become staples in my home and once you are used to these staples, they will not scare you any longer.  You may be thinking: Miso, Agar Agar, Brown Rice Syrup...huh?  What I do is try one knew ingredient at a time.  I wait until I have items on hand for a recipe that calls for something new that I have not tried yet.  Then I purchase the new item and try the new recipe.  Now I have that item in my pantry and I incorporate it into many other recipes.

Take Agar Agar for instance.  This is a powder that is derived from the sea vegetable Agar Agar.  It also comes in flakes but I purchased the powder for a Kanten recipe (vegan jello) from the Kind Diet.  The jello was very rubbery and I did not like the texture at all!  However, I have now used the Agar Agar in a number of recipes that need a thickening agent.  There are many resources on the internet for how much Agar Agar to use, but mostly I just stir in a teaspoon at a time until I get the results I desire, similar to cornstarch.  However, if you were to put this syrup into the fridge for an extended amount of time, it might become more gel like, so only make as much as you are going to use at the time.

During the drive to Hickory yesterday, Mr. Kummerow and I were reflecting on 2010 and our favorite moments and our biggest regrets.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Tanya's new job with Girls on the Run!
  • Mr. Kummerow being awarded his National Board Certification (and the big bonus check that came with it!)
  • Paying off credit cards!
  • Our vacation to Myrtle Beach, St. Louis and Vegas!
  • My sister's wedding!

Some of our regrets/challenges:

  • Deciding to run a marathon (never again!)
  • Spending too much time worrying about weight (Tanya, not Mr. Kummerow)
  • Mr. Kummerow felt he wished he would not procrastinate as much with work
In 2011 one of the fun things we have decided to do is have themed months.  We gave each month a title with a purpose or task that we should do that month and we are excited for the variety and fun it will hopefully bring!

Jogging January: let's finally finish this thing (marathon on Jan. 16)

Fast Food Fast February: ok, ok, so we don't really eat fast food, but we loved the alliteration- but it really means is no eating out.  We decided we wouldn't even eat out for Valentine's Day!  This will be a challenge!

March Madness: celebrate Tanya (my birthday is a week-long event!)

Alex's Surprise April: Alex is getting a surprise for his birthday but it is coming in April so that's why he gets this month.

Make a difference May: Mr. Kummerow's birthday is actually in May so we will be celebrating him all month long, but we liked this opportunity to do some volunteerism, and lots of it!

Jeep Somewhere June: aka: lots of camping!!!

Journey July: we are going to a wedding in Indiana and we want to use this opportunity to do another mid-west road trip.  We are also planning to stop in Virginia to check out some wineries and trails!

Anything August: Spontaneity will be the name of the game and we will draw out weekly date night ideas from a hat and go with it!  Should be fun!

Social September: Throw a party!  Have friends over!  Hang out!

Outgoing October: Run the Pumpkin Run in Halloween costumes and various other outgoing, unusual events!

New York November: I really want to go to New York for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade!

Decorate December: Our goal is to hang Christmas Lights outside our home next year.  We are going to decorate like crazy people for Christmas next year! Get ready!

Ok, so I know this is kinda cheesy, but cheesy is what you get with us!  It should make for some fun, unforgettable moments!  Do you do anything like this?  Set random month goals?  Date nights drawn out of a hat?

Mixed Up Miso

Mixed-Up Miso

I made this soup based on leftover ingredients I had on the likelihood that you can repeat this recipe exactly is slim.  However, I encourage you to also take the "everything but the kitchen sink" mentality and mix it all in, adding a final touch of miso will make this soup taste good no matter what you include!

shredded cabbage and romaine- about a cup
shredded carrots- about 1/2 cup
diced tofu- about 1/4 package
cooked chickpeas- about 1/2 cup
leftover Green Goodness Soup- about 1 cup
cooked rice noodles- about 2 cups
two Kukicha tea bags (or maybe green tea bags)
lemon juice
shoyu or soy sauce
2 tbsp miso

In pot bring 4 cups water to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer two teabags in water for 2-3 minutes.
Remove bags from water and return water to a boil.  Add cabbage, romaine, carrots, tofu, chickpeas, and any other leftover veggies or ingredients you desire.

Return soup to a boil then reduce heat and simmer.  Season soup with lemon juice and shoyu sauce (about a tbsp of each).  Scoop 1 cup broth from the pot and stir 2 tbsp miso into broth.  Return this mixture to the pot and stir well and serve.
This soup is warm and comforting and perfect for a cold winter day or when you just haven't had enough veggies lately!  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Adventures with Alex

Oops, I mean Adventures with Mr. Kummerow.  Sorry I just can't help myself when an alliteration is possible!

After a delicious and warming lunch of spring rolls and miso soup we headed out for short trip to Target to get out of the house and purchase a new hair dryer (mine literally went up in smoke this morning!).
Well, a short trip to Target wound up being an afternoon of adventure (another alliteration!).  We had absolutely no will power to return to the house and return to the work that awaited us.  Instead Mr. Kummerow pulled right onto the interstate and we drove to a small town called Hickory.

Mr. Kummerow's mom visited Hickory not too long ago and told us the downtown scene was pretty neat.  It is less than an hour from us so what the heck.  I am supposed to be on vacation after all!

The first place we saw turned out to be the best stop!  The Crushed Olive.
And just as the name implies, this is a store of olive oils!  Many different flavors.  And you get to taste test all of them. 
Mr. Kummerow and I wandered around the little shop sampling everything from Black Truffle Oil (my personal favorite) to Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar (another personal favorite). 
There were so many options and soon my belly was full of oil and bread.  But we couldn't leave empty handed.  We purchased a Wild Mushroom and Sage Olive Oil, recommended for sauteed vegetables and mashed potatoes.  Yes, please!  Those will both be on the menu this week!
On my wish list are the very expensive Truffle Oils and the Vanilla and Dark Chocolate vinegars!

We walked around the cute downtown area but didn't find much else of interest.  We popped into the Emporium which also housed a Healthy Home Market (organic, natural grocery store).  We have one of these close by so we weren't too impressed with the scaled back version in the Emporium.  Thus we walked back to the car after a quick stop in a coffee shop (we were thirsty after all the samples!) and headed back toward home.

One more quick stop before home: Daveste Vineyards.  Sorry, we forgot to take any photos!  For $5 we had a sampling of 6 different wines made right in Mooresville's backyard, Troutman.  All were very tasty and I would love to go back in warmer weather to explore the 54 acre property, complete with hiking trails and lake!

By the time we were nearing home, we were both hungry and not wanting to cook.  We opted to swing by the grocery store for a salad bar and then decided that wouldn't be enough and popped into Jimmy John's for a vegetarian sub.
Each split halvsies and we had ourselves a pretty healthy combo!
Mr. Kummerow insisted on the white bread versus the whole wheat.  I obliged!

Back at home we rested in front of the television before resuming work.  I also completed a meal plan for the week.  It has been months since I have planned a week's worth of meals.  We find we save so much money and energy when everything is planned in advance.  We also have less instances of eating out due to lack of planning (case and point: this evening!).  I planned all of the meals around items we already have in the house from a quick trip to BJ's this week and our Absolute Organics delivery, so my grocery list is quite short:

Black eye peas
Hoagie bread (next weekend)
Sweet Potatoes
Almond Milk

First, I assessed all of the food in house.  Next, I explored my new cookbook: Veganomicon for recipes that included ingredients I already had on hand.  I made a list of all the recipes from the cookbook and otherwise that I wanted to make this week.

Broccoli Millet Croquettes (Veganomicon pg 51)
Tofu scramble w/ hashbrowns
Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes (Veganomicon pg 76)
Tuna salad (hungry hungry hippy)
Snobby Joes (Veganomicon pg 98)
Mashed potatoes
Broccoli polenta (Veganomicon pg 114)
Mexican millet (Veganomicon pg 118)
Potato broccoli soup (Veganomicon pg 139)
Chickpea noodle soup (Veganomicon pg 139)
BBQ Blackeyed Pea Collard Rolls (Veganomicon pg 175)
Pumpkin Baked Ziti (Veganomicon pg 194)
Banana Wheat Germ Muffins (Veganomicon pg 226)

Then I listed out the days that I needed to plan for.  (I am planning until my next Absolute Organics delivery that comes every other week.)  And I filled in the blanks for all the meals, crossing off the recipes as I went.  You can see I did not use everything, but I keep them on my list, in case I need an extra meal or I switch something out last minute.
B= blueberry cornmeal pancakes
L= leftover spring rolls and soup
D= New Year's Party

B/L= Tofu Scramble with hashbrowns and toast
(bake Banana Wheat Germ Muffins)
D= BBQ Blackeyed Pea Collard Rolls

B= bagels/muffins
L= leftovers/salads
D= Pumpkin Baked Ziti

B= cereal/muffins
L= leftovers
D= Snobby Joe’s and mashed potatoes

B= cereal/muffins
L= leftovers
D= leftovers (Tanya dinner out with girls)

B= cereal/muffins
L= tuna salad
D= Broccoli Millet Croquettes, sautéed spinach

B= cereal/muffins
L= leftovers
D= leftovers

B= cereal/oatmeal
L= leftovers
D= brown rice, sautéed mushrooms, spinach and carrots, tofu

B= cereal/oatmeal
L= veggie burgers and sweet potato fries
D= Potato Broccoli Soup

B= bagels
L= leftovers
D= Meatball Subs

B= cereal/oatmeal
L= broccoli cheese soup (freezer)
D= leftovers (Tanya board meeting)

B= cereal/oatmeal
L= veggie burgers
D= Mexican Millet, black beans and veggies

As you can see, we are all planned out for 1/3 of the month!  
Do you plan your meals in advance? How do you make your list and do you stick to it?

No regrets!

I woke up this morning with the daunting reality that I was no longer on vacation! Sure it is still Christmas break, and while I am planning to do GOTR work, I don't have to babysit the kids until Monday, so in a way it still feels like vacation.  But I'm talking about my New York vacation. 

It was slightly disappointing to wake up in North Carolina this morning.  While I am fully aware of the reasons I decided not to go, I would be lying if I said there wasn't a bit of regret. 

I based part of my decision not to go on the "one whole day has already been wasted" excuse.  But in reality, if I would have taken my flight and gotten there late last night, I would have had 5 full days in New York which is plenty long for me.

So I started second-guessing my decision to stay home.  I tossed and turned in bed this morning, so I got up pretty early and finished off the book of Luke in the New Testament.  Somehow reading about Jesus' death and resurrection made my little decision seem very minute.  It put things in perspective and I determined not to waste another day by regretting my decision to stay home.  I put my big girl panties on and dealt with it.  Then I got on to other matters.

First was the case of leftover rice wrappers in my fridge that have been there for nearly 4 months.  Rice wrappers become very difficult to maneuver when they are older so I wanted to use them up before it was too late.

Inside the spring rolls were mushrooms, rice noodles, cabbage, romaine and carrots.  I had enough leftover wrappers to make 8 and with my leftover chopped veggies I am going to whip up miso soup and that will be lunch.  For a full tutorial on how to roll a spring roll check out this post.  Mr. Kummerow emerged from the bedroom around the time I was finishing up this project and together we cleaned the kitchen mess. 

Next project to tackle: unpacking the suitcase.  It is not fun to unpack a suitcase ever.  But it is certainly less fun when you didn't even take the trip.  The good news is it is finished.  If I didn't tackle it right away, I'm sure the suitcase would have remained packed for several days, maybe weeks.

Third matter was yoga class.  (Oh I did manage to squeeze in a bowl of cereal at some point.)  I got in my cold car (even more reason not to be in New York right now!) and drove to the gym.  What, no 9:45am class? I swear one used to exist at that time!  Yoga, fail. 

Now I am home trying to stay motivated to go back to the gym at noon for another yoga class but I am not making any promises today.  Today is about staying happy.  Happy with my decisions.  Happy with my choices.  And if I choose no yoga today, there is always tomorrow! 

By the way, there are many good things to not taking the trip and these are what is keeping me positive:
  • Like I mentioned, warmer weather.
  • I get to spend New Year's with Mr. Kummerow and some close friends.
  • I will get to do my 13 miler in 60* weather this weekend!
  • I am saving over $300! Maybe I will get those new boots after all!
  • And when I finally visit New York in the spring, the weather will be beautiful!
What are your New Year's plans?  I will be watching the ball drop in Times Square from the warmth and comfort of the Biszas' home and hopefully be thankful that I am with my husband and warm and not out in the cold with lots of strangers. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What would you do?

It's been 12 hours, you are still sitting in the airport, your flight has been delayed umpteen million times and now the flight that was supposed to leave after yours to the same destination has just been canceled. You are flying for fun, and several hundred people are just trying to get to their homes. What would you do?

I would be lying if I told you that I did this entirely out of the goodness of my heart for all the poor souls just wanting to get home to New York.  And I would probably be lying if I said that at this point I even wanted to go to New York anymore after all this trouble.  So instead, I cashed in my ticket and headed home.  What would you do?

Yes, I do want to be in New York, and yes I am utterly sad to be at home right now.  But another part of me is completely at peace with my decision and grateful to be in the comfort of my own house, and will happily sleep in my own bed tonight.  What would you do?

An adventure with Sweet Pea is just what I needed this season, instead I suppose I will just hunker down and get some work done this week.  But after a 12-hour day at the airport, what would you do?

Luckily, I packed almost enough food to feed me the entire day.  I added this $6 bowl of cheap veggies to the remainder of my lunch and was pretty satisfied with my make-shift dinner.  What would you do?
I ate this around 6:30 tonight while still sitting patiently at the airport waiting for my 11:00 am flight to board.  This was also after 3 episodes of America's Next Top Model reruns, blog reading and a few podcasts.

By the time I was finished with my humble meal, I was ready to go home.  I jumped in line to find out my options right before they canceled the JFK flight that was scheduled to leave after mine.  The line quickly became a mile long, and I decided then to sell my seat and go home.  I checked with Mr. Kummerow and Sweet Pea to make sure they backed my decision and I approached the counter ready to wheel and deal.  What would you do?

"Two round trip tickets for my seat on the plane that is getting ready to board," I offered the Jet Blue supervisor.  He countered with "$400 in vouchers."  "No way, this ticket alone cost me $250!" I exclaimed.  "Fine, $500."  "Deal!"

And it went like that.  Now I'm considering a nice trip to New York in the spring.  I hear that is a good time of year?  And just in case it isn't, I have enough in vouchers for another trip in the fall should I decide. 

All is well and I am at home.  There will be no New York City posts, only my own humble life in North Carolina.  What would you do?

Have a glass of wine and relax!  That's what I would do!

Airport day

So I should be arriving right about now in New York, but instead I am still here in Charlotte, with no hope for leaving anytime soon!

I knew New York was backed up, but I thought I would get there without any issues.  I was even expecting delays so I wasn't horrified when I attempted to check my bags and the kind sir informed me I couldn't check my bags more than 4 hours in advance.  "That is all good and fine," I told the kind gentleman, "But my flight is at 11:00am, two hours from now."  Then I was informed that in fact I was wrong and "Your flight will not be leaving until 1:30pm!"

Ok, ok, I can handle that.  Mr. Kummerow had just dropped me off and I could just call him up and he would be back in minutes.  We ended up visiting the mall because home was just too far.  Even these facts I was fine with, after all, I really needed a new pair of boots before I went to New York!

I didn't become frustrated until later, when I arrived back at the airport and found my flight to be delayed even longer.  Now, as I sit here, I can imagine the Jet Blue employees smiling in sympathy to us naive passengers who think we are getting to New York today.  I told Mr. Kummerow I get the feeling it just isn't happening.

But perhaps that is because this trip feels too good to be true anyhow.  Here's hoping we will board soon enough.  In the meantime, let me tell you about the rest of my day!

It all began at 5am when the alarm rang for the first time.  I was convinced I would work out before I left, because the chances of squeezing in a workout in NY are slim.  We all know I will not be running outside (despite the running shoes that I always pack just in case!).

Well Mr. Kummerow and I finally rolled out of bed around 5:30 and ushered off to the gym to lift some weights and push through another dreadmill workout!

Minutes 1-4: walk at 4.0 mph
4-14: run at 6.3 mph
14-18: walk at 4.0 mph
18-20: run at 6.8
20-21: walk at 4.0
21-23: run at 7.0
23-24: walk at 4.0
24-26: run at 7.2
26-27: walk at 4.0
27-29: run at 7.4
29-30: walk at 3.5

A bit of intervals and speed work was all my mind could tackle on the treadmill after my 3 mile run on the machine yesterday.  It was a good sweaty work out and while I was home showering, Mr. Kummerow popped over to our favorite bagel place for this goody:
Everything bagel with sliced avocado.  I once thought my everything bagel days were over when I quit eating butter and cream cheese.  Let's face it, peanut butter isn't that great with the salt and garlic!  But when I discovered this combo above, I was a very happy vegan gal!

After breakfast we headed to the airport, then headed out to the mall where I did not find boots and then back to the airport.  After learning of the further delays, I was tempted to have Mr. Kummerow come back and pick me up, but I figured this way I could get some work and blogging done while I'm stuck here (Charlotte airport has free WiFi!)

By the time I made it through security I was ravenous and whipped out my packaged lunch:
Apparently security does not like peanut butter, because they sifted through my whole lunch box.  They also ended up crunching and mashing everything in side!  Oh well, still tasted good!
Spelt tortilla with Justin's Maple Almond Butter, pumpkin puree and sliced bananas.  I also ate some pretzels and a little granola.  And one of the lemon cookies I packed.

Now I just heard word that the plane we are waiting on is getting ready to leave JFK and should arrive by 2:30pm (if it gets to take off!).  Which means we should be boarded and back on our way to JFK by 3ish!  Good news!  I will miss a whole afternoon in New York, but things could be worse.  I choose to stay positive!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sweet Pea, my sweet pea, oh won't you sing with me!

Have I mentioned that I am leaving for New York City tomorrow morning?  I don't think I have and I am so shocked it has slipped my mind!  I must have been caught up in the holidays.  But tomorrow morning I will be arriving in the Big Apple for 5 fun-filled days with my good friend Sweet Pea (no relation to Mama Pea or the Pea family).

Sweet Pea and I met in college working at a residential YMCA camp in Potosi, Missouri.  A tiny town no one has ever heard of, but an amazing camp that changed my life.  I reflect on life and often think what would have happened had I not chose Southeast Missouri State University for school, joined a sorority, met Maggie Beardsley- a sorority sister- who brought Sven to our sorority house my freshmen year (hot Englishman with an accent) who convinced me all men at YMCA Camp Lakewood had a hot English accent, which led me to meet two very important people in my life: Jody Heimos and Emily Piper (aka Sweet Pea).

Jody Heimos was integral in my life; he was the reason I moved to Wisconsin.  No I was not chasing an English accent, rather a short bald man with a promise of a new job, a new beginning, and an adventure the summer after I graduated college.  He was the Assistant Camp Director when I began working at Camp Lakewood as a freshman, and soon after he took a job at YMCA Camp Edwards in Wisconsin where he invited me to come work and where I met the wonderful Mr. Kummerow (known to me then as Kumo or the Walrus!)

Sweet Pea's influence was more immediate, but also came much later as well.  Immediately she taught me to have fun, say what was on my mind, be myself and love life!  She taught me about spontaneity and what good music is.  We spent two fabulous, fun summers in Missouri, working together and experiencing life!  She was an instant friend and even though we live miles apart now and actually always have...when we visit it is just like old times!

I mentioned her influence came later in life as well because after one  year in Wisconsin, I was ready to GET OUT!  It was much too cold for me there!  When I met Sweet Pea, she lived in North Carolina, just worked in Missouri for the summers.  So when Mr. Kummerow and I were exploring warm places to live, it was only natural to visit her hometown.  While Sweet Pea was off roaming the country, her parents still lived in North Carolina and so we stayed with them multiple times while searching and interviewing for jobs, apartments, etc.  They even let me live with them for 3 weeks while I started working but my apartment wasn't ready yet. 

Another cool, fun fact about Sweet Pea's family is that her dad is the one who married Mr. Kummerow and me.  He is a minister and gave such a heartfelt meaningful message at our wedding that we will cherish forever!

So while Sweet Pea is still out exploring and roaming the country, I find it fun to visit her in all of her new adventures.  Once in Virginia Beach on vacation with Mr. Kummerow and my little sister for my sister's 21st birthday.  Sweet Pea was interning with a newspaper; she just finished her undergrad in Journalism.

Once in Boston where we watched the Cardinals beat the Red Sox and I got up close and personal with the Celtics right after their championship win!  Sweet Pea was working as an editor then.

I missed my opportunity when Sweet Pea packed up her life and moved to Arizona to volunteer with Young Adult Volunteers through the Presbyterian Church and worked at a food bank to help set up community gardens.

But now she is on a new adventure!  And I'm not missing my opportunity here!  Sweet Pea is attending NYU for a Master's in Food Systems.  She has one of the coolest internships ever (helping start a low-income CSA) and I am going to visit her in Brooklyn tomorrow!  You may remember Sweet Pea from her guest post on the blog not too long ago! 

Either way, I assure you the next 5 days will be full of adventure, spontaneity and probably some Bud Light.  After all, those are the things we bonded over way back when! 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Recipes Too

Green Goodness Soup

This soup is light and refreshing and will help balance any sugar coma you may be experiencing from Christmas cookies and snacks!  It is packed with good for you ingredients and full of nutrients and protein!

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 cups split peas
6 cups water
3 cups chopped kale
1 cup chopped cilantro

1 tbsp lemon juice

In large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and add minced garlic cloves.  Saute for a few minutes and then add your split peas and water directly after.  Bring water to a boil and reduce heat and simmer 25-30 minutes.  Add kale to top of pot and cover 2-3 minutes until kale is wilted from steam.  Stir kale into the rest of the soup.  Turn off heat and spoon 3/4 mixture into food processor and process until smooth.  Add cilantro to food processor and continue to process until smooth.  Pour contents back into pot with reserved soup and stir in lemon and salt and pepper to taste.

Pumpkin Cheezecake

I did not make this recipe but if Alina and Ron can do it (self-professed terrible bakers!) anyone can do it!  Alina kindly shared this recipe that she found on


1 1/2 cups vegan ginger snaps
1/4 cup Earth Balance butter, melted

2 (8 ounce) containers Tofutti Cream Cheese
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 tsp light brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground allspice
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350*.  Lightly oil an 8-inch springform pan.  Place the crumbs directly into the pan, add the melted butter and toss with a fork to combine.  Pres the crumbs evenly against the bottom and side of the pan and set aside.

Place cream cheese in a food processor and process until smooth.  Add the pumpkin and process until blended.  Add the sugar and spices and process until blended.  Spread the filling evenly into the prepared crust.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool in the oven for 15 minutes to an hour without opening the oven door.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely at room temperature.  Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Alina used a small cookie cutter to make Gingerbread Men shaped guava decors.  You could use finely shredded crystallized ginger or a sprinkling of cinnamon to top yours as well.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Recipes

Vegan Mac and Cheese
This was a great dish, very flavorful and fun.  It wasn't quite mac and cheese however.  I loved this casserole and will probably make it again, but for next year's Christmas Eve tradition, we will be trying the Mac Daddy recipe in my new Veganomicon cook book.  It uses soy cheese to bring more of that classic cheesy flavor to the dish.  

1 box whole wheat elbow noodles
3/4 cup cashews
2 and 1/4 cup Almond Milk, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp mustard
2 slices bread (I used leftover Chili Beer Bread, any will work)
1 tbsp Earth Balance
3 tsp cornstarch
paprika to garnish

Cook pasta to package directions.

In food processor, process bread until it is crumbs.  Add Earth Balance and combine.  Remove from processor and set aside.

While pasta is cooking, make your "Cheese": In food processor, process cashews until they become a fine crumb.  Slowly add 1/4 cup Almond Milk, scraping down the sides every few minutes to fully combine.  Add remaining ingredients: garlic, lemon juice, salt, yeast and mustard and process until smooth. 

In small bowl whisk together remaining 2 cups almond milk with cornstarch and set aside.

When pasta is done cooking, drain and mix "Cheese" sauce in large bowl until all noodles are covered.  Place in casserole dish.  Pour milk and cornstarch mixture over the top of the noodles and top casserole with bread crumbs.

Bake in 350* oven for 35 minutes and enjoy! 

Vegan Scalloped Potatoes

The sauce ingredients here are similar to the Vegan Mac and Cheese.  The dishes are very similar in flavor and texture and this cheesy sauce would work well in many other casseroles I'm sure.  

6-8 small white potatoes (I used Russet but other varieties might be better)
1 cup water
1 cup Almond Milk
1/2 cup Nutritional Yeast
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup cashews
1 tbsp miso
salt and pepper and paprika to taste and garnish

Thinly slice potatoes (I used an attachment for my food processor which worked brilliantly!)

Layer slices in casserole dish sprinkling salt and pepper and paprika on every layer.

In food processor, process cashews until they form a fine crumb.  Add 1 tbsp of water at a time until it becomes a "butter".  Then mix in milk, nutritional yeast, cornstarch, lemon juice, salt and onion powder.  Add remaining water until it is a thin, pourable mix.  Add miso last and combine well.  Pour the mixture over the potatoes in the casserole dish.

Sprinkle top with more paprika and bake in oven 90 minutes until all potatoes are soft.  Let casserole cool 10 minutes before serving.  Serve warm.

A Southern White Christmas!

Merry Christmas!
Do you see the white stuff in the photo above?! Well that turned into this...
And we enjoyed a White Christmas!  This isn't a new thing for us, Mr. Kummerow being from Chicago, we have spent many White Christmases up North.  But this was our first White Christmas in North Carolina!

We had a slow moving morning.  The presents were opened the night before, I even prepared the casserole I was bringing the night before.  All that was left to do was pop the food in the oven and then convince Mr. Kummerow to go for a run with me.  We jogged 3-4 miles on empty streets in the cold.  But at least we finished before the snow settled in! 

As we returned home, we showered, finished the casserole and loaded the car.  Mr. Kummerow's mom lives just an hour away in Winston-Salem, so when we don't travel for the holidays you can typically find us eating dinner with the VonDrasek's.  The hour-long drive also gives us the opportunity to call all of our family back at home.  As we pulled out of the driveway, the first snowflakes were beginning to fall.
As we reached W-S I urgently ushered our hosts outside for a quick photo shoot.  Who knows in North Carolina how long the snow will fall.  Turns out it would continue to fall all day, into the night and even into this morning!
Our happy hosts returned to the kitchen and laid out yummy appetizers that pleased my belly- in the hustle and bustle of the morning, we accidently skipped breakfast.
Soon dinner was served and drinks were poured. 
My trifecta of beverages!  Mimosa, red wine and water. 
This was another Field Roast product, and while not as good as the EnCroute, it was still very succulent!  The flavor was all there, but I missed the pastry shell that the previous loaf boasted.
The sides included steamed broccoli, mashed sweet potatoes and Vegan Scalloped Potatoes.  The scalloped potatoes were our contribution, and while the photo does not do this dish justice, it was pretty darn good.  The sweet potato mash was made by our hosts and included vegan butter and vegan sour cream and a dash of honey.  Who knew sour cream was the key to a light and fluffy mash!?
My plate with a small side salad.
I caught wind of a very special dessert that was coming up, so I opted to not indulge at dinner and save room.  Luckily, because after dinner this emerged from the fridge!
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Ginger Snap crust and Guava Gingerbread Men!  Now Alina and Ron will be the first to tell you they are neither dessert eaters or bakers!  They were nervous about making this dessert all along but they certainly impressed their guests this time! 
The cheesecake was the perfect balance of dense flavor and light and fluffy texture with a crunchy crust.  The guava gingerbread men made it whimsical and fun!  Served with coffee (mine in a mug with Mr. Kummerow's childhood face!) and cookies on the side (contribution from the cookie party) and I was in a holiday heaven!
The hosts taste-tested each of the Cookie Party cookies and exclaimed the Cherry Almond cookies from Emily and the Red Velvet Cake Balls from Brandy were the favorites.  Vegan Cookie Fail!  However, the Vegan Empire Cookies got a few compliments, and with a few suggestions I am sure they will be just like Grandma's next year! 

During dinner we got on an interesting conversation about our faith.  The VonDrasek's moved to NC around the same time Mr. Kummerow and I did.  They told us how their faith has been strengthened since they moved to the area and really believe that their move to Winston-Salem was God-purposed and led.  They have since started attending a church every Sunday, strengthened their prayer time with God and put faith in His son Jesus Christ.  They will also be starting Bible Studies as part of their New Year's Resolution! 

It is interesting to hear their testimony because Mr. Kummerow and I feel very similar about our own move to North Carolina.   We were neither regular church attenders or follower's of Christ Jesus when we moved here.  We had very little faith in a higher being and lived selfishly.  When we moved here, we were surrounded by folks who openly believe and discuss their faith.  I joined a Bible study at work soon after starting my new job and began to make some serious life changes to allow room for Christ in my heart.  Mr. Kummerow and I began to attend church and finally settled on Lake Norman Fellowship where the members became our family and were integral in strengthening our faith and leading us to be full worshippers of Jesus.  By the time we were married in 2009 we both had put our faith in Christ and soon after Mr. Kummerow was baptized. 

I am confident that no matter where we would have moved we would have eventually found Christ as our savior, but because of the jobs God led us to, and the people we met here, we have been saved.  And I am so grateful God led us here, and led Alina and Ron to North Carolina!

Especially because they can host us for dinner on holidays when we don't want to travel!  Once again, Mr. Kummerow and I were so very blessed by the VonDrasek's.  From dinner to dessert to gifts, they really out did themselves!  We received some really neat one-a-kind ornaments, Christmas decor and charity gifts that blew me away!  They also promised that this would be the last of the traditional Christmas "poopers" that we would receive. 
What with Mr. Kummerow nearing 30, the family decided that this would be one tradition put to rest (he receives these for every stinking holiday!)  I fear for my future children's future, however!

We braved the snow and made it home safely.  The rest of the afternoon is a blur of food and drink induced coma.  Somewhere around 6pm I started to come out of it, just in time for my stomach to tell me it was time to eat again.  This time I wanted nothing but a wholesome bowl of greens.
Reheated Green Monster Soup with brown rice and leftover broccoli mixed in. 

We decided to brave the snow once again for an old Christmas tradition: a movie.  We have been wanting to see a film at the Our Town Cinema in Davidson, NC for a while (they serve yummy food and drinks at comfy arm chairs and tables).  We watched How Do You Know with Paul Rudd and Reese Witherspoon.  I'm not going to lie, I was a little disappointed.  But it was good for a few laughs! 

Finally we were home for the evening.  The snow was still falling and we received word that church was canceled for this morning.  Bummer.  A real snowed-in day.  Hopefully it won't keep us from making it to a restaurant for the Bears game this afternoon!
I hope you had a pleasant Christmas and I promise all holiday recipes will be posted by tomorrow!  Stay tuned!